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Astronaut Harrison is an awesome reader. I’m not just saying that as a proud parent. He reads EVERYTHING...except for books that his teachers want him to. His teacher, the school librarian, and Harry all agreed that he should “take a break" from the advanced reading group he was in at school due to his not liking the books they were reading and the frequent protests he made each time the group met. More than once I've asked myself what I could do to get him interested in a wider array of reading materials.
The past few months he’s been hooked on the exploits of "Captain Underpants", "Dogman and Cat Kid", "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", and other graphic novels which, don’t get me wrong, are hilarious but also very similar, and not really exposing Harry to new viewpoints and experiences.
While at this years Dad 2.0 Summit, I learned about a program from Amazon called the Prime Book Box for Kids and it gave me an idea.
One thing Astronaut Harrison loves more than almost anything else is getting mail addressed to him, especially packages. I thought maybe this could be a good way of getting to try new books that neither he or I would have picked if we were at the bookstore or library.
"Last week we got our first box and guess what? My idea worked! The first two books we received have zero fart jokes, cartoon antics, super heros, or villains and he cannot get enough of them!"
We have spent the last week reading "The Year of the Book” (an Anna Wang novel) by Andrea Cheng. It's a story about an introverted American-born Chinese girl named Anna who escapes into books while trying to reconcile disparate home and school lives.
So many elements of the book and its main character speak to Harry even though he might not recognize those similarities himself (I won’t go into details because *spoilers*). He loves reading it with me even though it only has a scattering of illustrations and the situations Anna is dealing with are a bit beyond Harry’s own experience as a 7 year old boy.
"...he told me that he loves chapter books because they help him "create pictures in his head” and “words are his favorite food for his brain”."
In addition to reading a chapter together every night, I’ve been reading to him during breakfast in the morning. Each time I do, he cleans his plate without complaint. Without the book, he usually bolts from the table halfway through after much complaining about every aspect of the dining experience, the state of affairs in DC, and the designated hitter rule. He also ends up in a much better frame of mind for the start of the school day, which is something he has been struggling with for a while now.
In the past when we would try to read a chapter book together, he would complain that they are “boring because they don’t have pictures or action". The other night, as we were getting ready for bed after reading, he told me that he loves chapter books because they help him "create pictures in his head” and “ words are his favorite food for his brain”.
So, if you’ve ever asked yourself what it would take to get your kids to read more or read a more diverse selection of books? For us it’s $19.99 per month, a Prime membership, and plenty of time together.
Visit: Amazon Prime Book Box for Kids for more information or to sign up.